By Yera Nanan |Staff Writer|
The men’s basketball season is underway and it’s looking to be a promising one.
They are one the most decorated sports franchises at the university with three NCAA regional titles, nine CCAA titles and 13 NCAA appearances. Their most recent titles in both the NCAA regional and CCAA came in the 2014 season.
“We’re one of the most successful programs in the CCAA for the last 20 years,” said Head Coach Jeff Oliver.
“We’ve been to three Elite 8’s, two Final Four’s and have won nine conference championships,” continued Oliver.
The last two seasons have been tough for Coach Oliver and company since they are coming off of two heavy loss seasons.
“I’m just happy to get last season over with to be honest and that’s not what we do here in terms of tradition,” said Oliver.
“We’ve struggled the last two years and we haven’t lived up to our potential for sure, there’s never an easy game in this league,” continued Oliver.
Injuries, rebounding troubles and sub-par defense from the team also contributed.
“I went from having the biggest team in the country to the smallest team in the country in about a month,” said Oliver.
Oliver has racked up the most wins among any coach in the school’s history, and is looking to correct the mistakes from the last two seasons while building upon positive things.
The team had a great knack for moving and protecting the ball as they ranked first in the CCAA in fewest turnovers.
“I would like balance…I would like a lot of guys right around that double figure mark which is when we have been our best,” mentioned Oliver.
The road ahead won’t be an easy one for the team since the next home game isn’t until Dec. 29.
The team will travel the region looking to pick up as many wins as they can before finally returning home.
“The schedule is one thing against us this year…It’s tough and we’ve got to be able to play on the road,” added Oliver.
This team lost nearly 28 percent of their scoring record with the seniors who graduated last year but returners and new faces are looking to make their mark.
“We have new incoming players this year that can score so I don’t think scoring will be a problem for us this year,” said Ventura college transfer Eli Brown.
“Being a point guard, me and my fellow teammate Everett have to set the tone on defense,” continued Brown.
The training atmosphere for this squad is intense with coach Oliver showing tough love towards his players as everyone is constantly moving and sweating.
“I would say this is pretty hard since I’m learning new things, my work ethic is getting better and I’m in the weight room,” said Brown.
“Oliver and staff are very good coaches since they push us and only want the best out of us,” continued Brown.
As this new athletic group trains for a schedule bombarded with road games, everyone has the same goal in mind, an NCCA Regional Title.